jump to navigation

Baseball Card Of The Day, Cranky Old Man Edition – 1968 Bob Gibson May 20, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Baseball, Baseball Cards.
add a comment

Gibson had arguably the greatest single season performance of any pitcher in the modern era in 1968 – a record of 22-9, with 268 Ks in 304 innings…. along with a phenomenal 28 complete games and a seemingly impossible ERA of 1.12.

But look at these amazing stats that log every game of his in ’68 and zero in on June and July – he pitched FIVE complete game shutouts in a row during a stretch where he won ELEVEN straight complete games, EIGHT of them  shutouts.

His shortest start all year was his first – where he went 7 innings.

And now consider baseball in 2018 – the era of pitch counts, 7th inning left handed batter ground ball specialists, having five different guys come out of the bullpen to pitch the last three innings and other such SABERMETRIC BULLSHIT, and then hark back to the days when REAL MEN LIKE BOB GIBSON went out on a regular basis and dominated the living shit out of hitters who included Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Pete Rose and the rest.

Gibson’s iron manliness was the rule and not the exception, either. Those 28 complete games were NOT the league lead – Juan Marichal pitched 30 of ’em for the Giants. Gibson’s World Series opponent Denny McLain would also have 28 complete games for his amazing 31-6 record. Gibson would beat him twice in that series, but would get bested by Mickey Lolich in the end after a bad 7th inning.

Last year, Corey Kluber led the majors with 5 complete games, total.

Gibson did that in a row, in a month, all shutouts.

Kluber is no slouch, either, I’ve watched him beat my Yankees enough times. Cy Young winner, the whole bit. But Gibson intimidated the living crap out of batters. He was notorious for brushback pitches, yet did not hit many batters. He just made you think he did. His scowl and aura from the mound made it look like he didn’t just want to get you out, he wanted to KILL you and have your entire family watching in the stands die of heart attacks. You’d be thankful after all he did was strike you out.

We live in times of too much overthinking and finesse. And you kids better stay off my lawn.

And stay off Bob Gibson’s lawn too, he looks like he wants to kill you.



A Decent Haul May 19, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Books.
add a comment

Today’s gleanings from a big annual library sale I make a point of hitting every year.

Not too bad… two books on Hollywood. One all about government files on various Hollywood personalities (the cover blurb on Lou Costello’s giant porn collection made it an instant into-the-box decision), and another “Cut!” which is basically the encyclopedia of celebrity death and murder. Now THAT’S entertainment.

Also a very extensive academic study of the origins of bible stories, which seems more a candidate for looking up a particular bible episode and reading about it rather than a cover-to-cover read.

Frank Kermode’s “Shakespeare’s Language,” another one to add to my never-ending Shakespeare kick, this one analyzing how the language evolved & changed from Titus Andronicus to The Tempest.

Also what looks like a very interesting book on Victorian-era forensic science applied to Sherlock Holmes stories, or the real-life history behind the inspirational material for The Murdoch Mysteries, I guess.

Another book on technical analysis trading to add to my shelf load – and much like my filtering for adding cookbooks (since I already have too many of those, too), I skimmed through parts of it and what she has to say about specific trading indicators and signals looked intriguing enough to spend A WHOLE DOLLAR on it.

An old book on how to approach publishers and agents, something I’m planning on making another go at after getting the next two books out there by year’s end. I’m sick of doing all my own marketing and publicity and the like. It’s very exhausting. And while I’ve read and am cynical about much of the how-to-get-published material out there, this guy’s in-your-face attitude and advice seems like it would be worth looking at, since much of what he’s talking about really hasn’t changed in the publishing biz since he put this book out over 30 (eek!) years ago. His advice on the psychology of pitch & sell looked totally applicable to today.

And finally, rounding things out (pun intended), Gary Taubes’ Why We Get Fat. I never read this one, only read summaries of Taubes’ theories online, and since his principles helped me drop some weight and keep it off while not sacrificing my gourmet inclinations, I figured it’d be worth a read.

The next big book sale & safari comes up in about a month. <Cut to Rocky-esque training montage…>


In Less Complicated Times, We Found The Answers More Easily May 17, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in General.
add a comment

A Quick Preakness Post for 2018 May 17, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Horse Racing.
add a comment


I don’t think I’ll be betting this race very big.

The favorite and likely winner Justify is currently at 1-3 on the morning line, the likely runner up Good Magic is 3-1, and the only big-odds horse that has some potential to money in this thing beyond show might be Lone Sailor, at 15-1.

Between those odds and the small field, the exotics won’t really be worth it. Maybe a couple of bucks on something, but not much more.

I’ll save my bankroll for the Belmont. If Justify can take this one and stir up a lot of excitement for a Triple Crown, AND face some high-odds ringer horse who runs the Belmont without running this or the Kentucky Derby, we may have the ingredients for tempting trifecta and superfecta combos.

Finlaggen Single Malt Scotch Review May 11, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Cooking, Food, General.
add a comment

I’m not too sure why I like single malt scotches and have never really liked any of the blended varieties I’ve sampled. Maybe because I can actually pick out flavors in the singles that overcome the harshness of the alcohol. But I’ve even had some single malts that only rated a “meh” in my eyes, and I pegged them as not really being worth adding to the rotation.

Well, after the plug it got in the Trader Joe’s fearless flyer that lands in my mailbox every few months, I got curious about Finlaggen single malt. I read a few reviews on whiskey review sites, and it seemed to be on par with other stuff I’ve liked in the past, like good ol’ Glenlivet, always my reference point for single malt scotch since it was the first one I ever tried, way back in college.

I figured nineteen bucks wasn’t too much to risk to try it, and I gotta say… I think I like it BETTER than Glenlivet. It feels “thinner” on the palate than the bourbons & ryes I’ve had, less syrupy I guess. But what really got me was the nice smokiness of the taste & finish.

A good scotch ought to evoke the smokiness of a nice peaty fire, right? I should picture myself sitting with Groundskeeper Willie in front of one, passing the bottle and trying to keep warm while we await Robert the Bruce to lead us into battle the following dawn against that inbred Longshanks bastard.

And he was played by Patrick McGoohan!

Anyway, this stuff leaves a wonderful smoky finish on the palate, akin to, well…. some really good smoked whitefish. I really can’t describe it any other way, but what began as the sting of alcohol on my tongue ended as the aroma of wonderful smoked fish. And as off-putting as that might sound, it really was wonderful.

I’d sip this stuff straight, and I’ll definitely enjoy it blended with water or seltzer.

AND it was only nineteen bucks at TJs, relatively cheap for a single malt, and certainly a good buy for a solid scotch.

So thumbs up!



Thursday Night Art: Chinese Restaurant, John Sloan (1909) May 10, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Art.
add a comment

John Sloan is one of the better known members of the “Ashcan School” of early 20th century urban-themed art, pretty much the heirs to the Thomas Eakins wing of American painting. Sloan painted everyday life in the New York City of his day, mostly.

Sloan’s view of the city usually contains hustle ‘n’ bustle. He likes crowds, both small and large, and the people in his cityscapes go about their business quite pleasantly. Maybe not with the dreamy beatitude of Renoir’s Parisian cityfolk. Certainly not with the quiet alienation of Hopper’s subjects. Sloan’s city dwellers are a mix of attitudes, but everyone looks like they actually like living in the city on a daily basis.

I made some chinese shrimp tonight for dinner. Maybe that’s why I thought of this.

I’m sure you’ve guessed – I want to go to a Chinese restaurant where I can share my dinner with a cat, like the woman in Sloan’s painting does.

And keep those jokes about what’s really the main ingredient of the strange flavor chicken to yourself, mac. Nobody’s hurting that kitty!

But an hour later, you’ll have an urge to pet him again. Hiyo!

WTF? May 8, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Football, General.
add a comment

  1. Steven Sagal dress-alike contest winner
  2. “I can be more convincing as a bullfighter than Robert Evans was in The Sun Also Rises. THIS kid stays in the Superbowl!”
  3. “Welcome to La Cocina Velazquez, for the finest in tapas. Would you prefer a booth, table, or seats at the bar?”
  4. “Mister Bond, so good of you to drop in.  Perhaps a long overdue tour of my operations towards world domination are in order. My protegé Belichick longs to kill you with his razor tipped hoodie, and I do not plan to disappoint him. And lest you think of escape, you will notice The Gronk stands in your way…”
  5. “Giselle picked this out and said it looks good on me, so no matter how fucking ridiculous you think it is, I’m just gonna smile and nod and not say a fucking thing, okay mac? She makes even more money than I do, and she’s almost as pretty.”

Gonna go with 5…

Wonderful Behind The Scenes TV Stories From Prolific Director Ralph Senensky May 6, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, Blogroll, Television.
add a comment

I’d forgotten that Don Rickles once played a villain on The Wild Wild West, and rewatched that episode today. And then in looking up some stuff about it online, hoping to find perhaps links to outtakes and blooper reels where he became Don Rickles and commented on the mystical evil magician dialogue he’d been given or on Robert Conrad and Ross Martin, I came across this behind-the-scenes story on the filming of the episode written by its director, Ralph Senensky.

Senensky directed TONS of television from the 1960s thru the 1980s, logging episodes of so many of yours & my favorite shows that’s there’s too many to mention here – and it turns out he’s been blogging for years on his memories of them, and has a fantastic website containing all that material, organized by show and episode.

This site is a GOLD MINE! Senensky writes beautifully about what working in television was like back in the days of my favorite old reruns. He brings to life assorted names you’d see on numerous credits of numerous shows – Gene Coon or Quinn Martin and so forth – as well as including interesting stories dealing with both the technical limits & possibilities of the industry all those years ago.  His entries on specific episodes (and check out that sidebar menu for the sheer volume of ’em) include scans of script pages with rewrites & director cues…. amazing stuff, especially for photographic memory geeks like me who can replay the episode in my mind while I’m reading.

And not just the Star Treks he did, either. I can do a lot of the others because ALL I DO IS WATCH TV.

For anyone interested in TV history, or just the old shows & stars & writers you follow in your little nerd-heart-of-hearts, this stuff is indispensable. I can’t believe I didn’t know about it until now.

To quote Spock: “Fascinating.”

Oh, and Rickles? He didn’t disappoint…. Senensky tells us that inbetween takes, he went the full Vegas act on everyone, even making Billy Barty jokes about Conrad’s height. Rickles remains my fuckin’ hero.

And it looks like Ralph Senensky celebrated his 95th birthday a week ago. Happy Birthday, Director!



They’re Coming For Me, I’m Sure May 5, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in General.
add a comment

“Holy chutzpah!”  to quote Robin.

Kentucky Derby Picks 2018 May 3, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Horse Racing.
Tags: ,
add a comment

I’m sitting here nursing a sudden spring cold, trying to make sense of past performances while running on soup and antihistamine.

So take that into account as I break down this year’s Kentucky Derby, running this Saturday around 3:50pm Pacific.

The opening line favorite, #7 Justify, certainly earns the spot – 3 and 0 lifetime, Baffert trained, Mike Smith in the seat and coming off a blazing gate-to-wire Santa Anita Derby.

But the field provides a lot of ammo for Justify to be a beatable favorite. Running 2nd in Santa Anita was #11 Bolt D’Oro, a horse that has all the earmarks of a bunch of commentator’s “safe” pick for an upset, but I don’t think so. I’d put this one on exotic combos, to be sure, but at 2-3-4, not first, even with the switch to Victor Espinoza in the saddle.

My candidates for upsetting Justify? Well, let’s start with #5 Audible, 4-1 lifetime and showing great speed in the Florida Derby recently, along with some solid works.  Trainer Tod Pletcher’s two other horses in this race are also interesting picks – #16 Magnum Moon (6-1) and #18 Vino Rosso (How can I resist Italian red wine, especially at 12-1) – they both show competitive speed with Justify and Audible, although their far-out post positions mean they’ll have to start pretty well and not get boxed out.

My real wild card is #14 Mendelssohn, the 2nd favorite at 5-1. No split times available for this foreign import for anything other than his winning Breeder’s Cup juvenile turf race, but finish times & other ratings are certainly strong.

If I had to pick a likely upset to Justify, I’d go with Mendelssohn. I’ll think about various exotics with the others between now and Saturday, depending on how zonked out I am on cold medicine.